The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede was originally published in January 2002. The book chronicles how the citizens of Gander and neighboring towns sheltered, fed and supported 6,579 airline passengers and crew whose U.S. bound planes were forced to land. This was as a result of the September 11th attacks. At 9:26 a.m. Tuesday, September 11th the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shut down its airspace, forcing over 4,000 planes to land at the nearest airport. Inbound flights from Europe were diverted to Canada. 38 planes landed at Gander International Airport. The airport in Gander marks the closest point between Europe and the U.S. and is a preferred emergency landing spot.
The population of Gander is fewer than 10,000 people but they took up the challenge of helping people in need. Many citizens took passengers home with them. Others brought basic supplies (blankets, towels, toiletries, etc). The passengers could not get to their luggage. Schools, churches, Salvation Army centers, and community centers were opened to serve as shelters. Bus drivers, who were on strike, came back to work to transport people to shelters. Stores stayed open 24 hours a day and often donated necessities. The good deeds went on and on.
The Broadway musical “Come From Away” is based on this book.